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Photo Essay: Inside Tashkent's Space-aged Subway Station

Public transit for the masses was one of the cornerstones of Communist ideology. In the 1930s, automobile production was limited in favour of building new metro systems. The best artists and sculptors were employed to decorate the stations with patterned ceilings, soaring arches and dazzling chandeliers. Many of the stations boasted elaborate mosaics of the Soviet space program or heroes of industry. 

After the ban on photographing the Tashkent metro in Uzbekistan was lifted in 2018, Amos Chapple went to Uzbekistan to photograph the stations on the Tashkent subway. Here are a few of his photos…


Photography inside the heavily policed metro was forbidden until June 2018 because of the military sensitivity of its second role as a nuclear bomb shelter


Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space. Tashkent’s Cosmonauts Station honors the enduring icons of the space race with its Milky Way glass star ceiling and atmospheric azure walls.


A cashier at an entrance to the metro. A trip costs 1,200 Uzbek soms (12p), making it the cheapest subway ride in the former USSR


A shimmering corridor linking two stations. After an earthquake devastated Tashkent in 1966, cautious planners reportedly reduced the depth and increased the strength of the metro, tunnelling within a few metres of the streets above.

A mural celebrating 2,200 years since the founding of Tashkent, inside Tashkent station


 

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Further Reading

travel

The Trans-Siberian Railroad - The Railroad that Changed the World and Started a War

9,198 kilometres of tracks connect Moscow to the Pacific port of Vladivostok. As the longest railroad in the world, the Trans-Siberian Railway is truly one of humanity’s most impressive engineering feats. But, this symbol of Soviet power has also had an outsized impact on the world at large. Its construction was the catalyst for a war between two superpowers, it transported millions of prisoners to the Gulags, and served as a lifeline during the Second World War.

architecture

A Top 10 Guide to Georgia’s Best Soviet & Modern Architecture

The Sovereign state of the Caucasus – and Stalin’s home nation – Georgia was a critical part of the USSR. In the late 1970s, it stepped out from its Soviet shadow and into a new architectural age. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the ambitious and otherworldly designs became an explicit rebuke of Communism and a sign of Georgia’s struggle towards self-actualisation. Here are ten of my favourite buildings in Georgia.

travel

Exploring Budapest’s Dystopian Underground Water Reservoir

Rising above the banks of Budapest’s Danube river is Gellért Hill, an affluent residential area with elegant tree-lined streets. But, hidden beneath the surface is a strange and surreal sight - the József Gruber Water Reservoir. Every March, it’s emptied for its annual cleaning. With 106 stretched columns, the second basin makes for a futuristic and dystopian landscape.

culture

Z is for Sorrow: How a Letter Became the Symbol for Russia's Invasion of Ukraine

Scrawled on the side of tanks and military vehicles, the letter "Z" caught the world's attention in the days following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The letter is bold and can be painted in a single stroke, yet it doesn’t exist in the Russian Cyrillic alphabet. So what does this distinctive and ominous symbol mean?

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